Yet another service provider is jumping into the TV streaming wars. This time it’s T-Mobile and its TVision service with live news, entertainment and sports channels, starting at $10 a month.
T-Mobile says it’s aiming to offer a simpler and and cheaper service for people dissatisfied with cable. But it’s entering a crowded field. And most similar streaming services have found it difficult to sustain low prices over time.
TVision will offer three branches of its service. TVision Live will have live news, entertainment and sports channels at three tiers priced at $40, $50 and $60, depending on how many sports channels you want. The $40 option offers around 30 channels including ABC, NBC, Fox, CNN, Fox News, ESPN, and Fox Sports Networks.
Then there’s TVision Vibe, which is $10 a month and includes about 30 channels from AMC, Discovery and Viacom — but no sports. And TVision Channels, which lets you sign up for individual channel streaming services, starting with just three: Starz, Showtime and Epix.
A slew of new streaming services started to challenge traditional TV providers and dominant streaming services like Netflix over the past year, including Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, HBO Max and Comcast’s Peacock service. CBS recently rebranded its CBS All Access service as Paramount Plus, relaunching in 2021.
Some have already bitten the dust. Quibi, a video platform designed for people who were out and about to watch on their phones in “quick bites,” launched in April and said last week it would shutter after failing to find its audience. T-Mobile had struck a deal with Quibi to offer the service free to subscribers on unlimited wireless family plans for one year.
Services offering more traditional cable TV-like bundles include Sling TV, FuboTV, YouTube TV, and others, were initially heralded as the future of TV as cable cord-cutting ramped up. They offered popular TV networks for less than you’d pay a cable company. Signing up and canceling were easy, with no need for a cable guy to come to your house.
But customer growth has slowed and even dropped for many of these services as prices rose and they added more channels. YouTube TV, for example, launched in 2017 at $35, raised its price to $50 last year and then again to $65 in June as it added new channels and lost others. Sony’s PlayStation Vue, one of the first such services, shuttered last year citing the high cost of content and the difficulty of reaching deals with networks.
A TVision app is currently available on the App Store and Google Play for phones and tablets, as well as third-party TV platforms such as Apple TV and Google TV. T-Mobile is also introducing its own HDMI device and remote for $50, called TVision Hub, that works much like a Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire stick to let you play video from a variety of streaming apps.
T-Mobile had previously launched a more traditional version of TVision in 2019, one that required broadband and a set top box to get 150-plus channels for $90 a month. But it was only offered in a handful of cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. When it launched, T-Mobile said the goal was to eventually offer the service nationwide over the Internet via apps and third party TV platforms people already use.
The new version of TVision is available nationwide — but only for T-Mobile wireless customers — starting Nov. 1. It will be available for legacy Sprint customers Nov. 13 and next year for T-Mobile prepaid customers and non-subscribers. T-Mobile acquired Sprint in a roughly $30 billion deal that closed in April after a lengthy regulatory review, creating a wireless giant that rivals AT&T and Verizon in size.